This month has been all about going from crawling to walking, metaphorically speaking. With my counterpart and supervisor gone until recently, I have had to become familiar with my new surroundings solo. Off to a slow-ish start, but at least I am progressing. What isn’t moving slow is time. Days bleed into weeks and weeks blur into months. It still feels like yesterday when I got the news that would change my life and bring me here. But yesterday is a reality of nearly 10 months ago and before that another year since simply submitting my application. Two years. And these next 2 years I am here will be just as fleeting. I’ll be writing my final chapter and reminisce how another 2 years came and went. Tick tock. 27…now 25 months.
My first month in Bondo. My first month as PCV has gone a little something like this…
Bondo town is about a 30 min walk from the compound, which is a comfortable distance for me. This cuts down on my transportation cost drastically. However, I did decide to definitely look into investing in a bike, not that I don’t enjoy walking, but because it is damn hot here! The walk is easy enough and I enjoy it, but it becomes tedious and uncomfortable with the sun beating down on my sensitive skin. Which make it looks more tomato-ish. Did I mention I am pretty much on the equator too? I carry a small bottle of sunscreen with me everywhere now, and I should probably start wearing a hat.
The town has most amenities, which reduces my trips into Kisumu to about once a month. There are many small supermarkets that carry a decent variety of products, a KCB for my banking needs and a G4S for medical packages. The roads are easy enough to navigate. One main road either going to Kisumu or toward another town, conveniently illuminated by street lights up to the university. Then the major crossroad that takes you to the market, post office and to the back road, which goes around the backside of town where the ministries, hospital, and police station are, and this road also branches off to take you to Siaya. There is an EasyCoach bus station that I know can take you to Kisumu, Nairobi, and Siaya, but I am not sure where else it travels.
The market is huge and has pretty much anything you can think of, and on the market days the fish market is bustling and the clothes market is overcrowded. Food definitely wont be a problem here, but I have been told of a very, very, very dry season when everything is scarce, especially water. For now water is fetched from one of the many tanks that fills from a rainwater catchment off the roof, I have my own 3200L tank attached to my house. When our water is out we go to the Food Hub. And as the last resort we can go buy it from the university which is 10bob a jerrican.
The university is huge. I recently went on a trip with the basketball team and Samir to Eldoret, which was a fun little weekend. I met up with PCV Tyler. He showed me around the city after the game, which apparently further than Kakamega from me. Interesting, I need to study a map of Kenya. We ate at a nice little joint where I got a cheeseburger with mushrooms and strawberry milkshake. Eldoret is well-known for having the only cheese factory in Kenya. Hoping to make a visit there another time, because I love cheese and they give free samples and have cheesecake. Epic win. Samir and I stayed at his house and we all sat around a fireplace drinking beer and just having a great time. It was a nice little weekend outing.
I took two trips into Kisumu. The first wasn’t so successful, but the second trip was very productive. I acquired most of the necessary things to get my house started and basic food stuffs so I can finally start cooking. Samir introduced me to a family friend, who has invited me to stay with her whenever I come into town. A very good resource and really nice couple with the cutest dogs.
I moved into my house mid-September, got a temporary bed set up so I can at least sleep there while furniture is made. Still living out of a suitcase. Bah. Which is just a clusterfudge of always misplacing something and feeling unorganized. I at least have a cozy bed to snuggle on. Found my internet modem, and happy to have that little luxury. When you don’t have many home luxuries, it is a blessing to have what you have, In my case I have my internet, electricity, and a propane three burner stove. Some things are just nice to have, not that it isn’t doable to live without. I love cooking, hence I need the stove over just a jiko, which I am planning to acquire anyway as a backup and to have an oven to continue my love of baking. Electricity gives me light and the ability to power my electronics safely in the security of my home, and I invested in a great plug-in diffuser that repels mosquitos. The internet only because it gives me access to email and I can keep up with current events and update people on how I am doing.
The little things. Two years living in a foreign place it is the little things that help me from getting too homesick. I can admit to being a little homesick, but as I continue to set up my little house and get to know my new town, I feel more and more comfortable. Establishing a routine is also a key component. Helps create familiarity. My time here is all about slowing down, letting go, finding peace and meaning, and re-establishing focus and direction in my life and it all starts with finding myself and catching my breath.